[번역/요약] 트럼프, 에너지 혁신 프로그램 예산 대폭 감축 예고

Source: “Trump Budget Proposes Deep Cuts in Energy Innovation Programs,” By Brad Plumer and Coral Davenport, May 24, 2017, the New York Times

트럼프 행정부의 2018년 예산안을 보면, 석유와 가스 자원으로부터 수백억 달러의 일회성 소득을 노리는 반면 장기적으로 유리한 미래 에너지 기술 연구 예산은 대폭 감축하는 등 국내 에너지 정책에 큰 변화가 있을 것으로 보인다.

최근 발표된 트럼프 대통령의 예산안에 따르면, 향후 10년간 국유지에 석유와 가스 채굴을 허용하는 등의 방안을 통해 미 정부가 약 360억 달러 이상의 소득을 벌어들일 것이다. 반면 에너지부 주관의 에너지 연구 프로그램에 31억 달러의 예산 삭감을 단행하여 작년에 비하여 18% 감소될 전망이다.  전기차 배터리 기술이나 석탄 및 가스 화력발전소의 탄소 포획 기술 등 온실가스 배출량을 줄이고 기후변화에 대처할 기술 개발이 이러한 프로그램의 주요 목적이다. 이에 청정에너지 산업에서 미국이 주도권을 놓칠 수 있다며 비판하는 목소리가 높다.

Continue reading [번역/요약] 트럼프, 에너지 혁신 프로그램 예산 대폭 감축 예고

Could Fuel Cells Be the Future’s Wishing Well?

In 2013, the team of GreenGT H2 prototype racer, which might have been the first vehicle without a petrol engine to compete in the Le Mans 24-hour race, announced withdrawal from the renowned competition. Even though it took a long time to develop the fuel-cell race car, said the head developer, it is not ready to participate in the tough race. This incident reflects the immaturity that the current fuel cell technology represents. Hailed as a state-of-the-art solution to a greener energy future, the technology with great potentials has yet to be fully exploited.

Fuel cells have a number of advantages—such as very low emission levels and relatively good efficiencies, especially compared to renewables. In addition, they are vibration-free, quiet and reliable[1]. Compared to battery-powered vehicles, the fuel-cell cars can be refueled rapidly just like gasoline-powered cars. Moreover, the rate of self discharge is not an issue compared to average electric cars.

Nonetheless, there are challenges to address, including costs and practical efficiency. Since ‘fuel’ cells are not batteries and thus need constant injection of fuel, fuel supply can involve complicated issues with infrastructure and chemical processes. Safety concerns exist as well, if hydrogen is used as a fuel.

An idea of harnessing fuel cells is to use them in renewable energy system. For example, hydrogen can be used to store intermittent electricity generation by renewable sources such as solar and wind. According to Fuel Cell Today, “excess electricity is fed into an electrolyser to split water into its constituent parts, oxygen and hydrogen. The hydrogen is then used in fuel cells to produce electricity when needed, releasing the stored energy back to the grid.” Considering the benefits of electricity storage, fuel cells can contribute to grid stabilization, protecting consumers from energy price spikes[2] or intermittency of renewables. Furthermore, the stored hydrogen can be used only for grid electricity but sold to fuel-cell car owners as a fuel[3].

Fortunately, more efforts are being made for newer and more innovative technology. Researchers are discussing fuel cell/ battery hybrids, use of non-hydrogen fuel such as methanol, and harnessing shale gas by-products. At any rate, even if fuel cells are not the cure-all, at least they can contribute to a cleaner energy future.

[1] Andrews and Jelley, 2013

[2] Sioshani et al. 2008, Estimating the value of electricity storage in PJM: Arbitrage and some welfare effects

[3] http://www.fuelcelltoday.com/media/1637147/using_fc_renewable_energy_systems.pdf

[4] Image source: http://today.lbl.gov/2015/10/07/oct-8-twitter-chat-on-the-fuel-cell-revolution/